Who’s Ready for Climate Change?

by Leeann on Novembre 13, 2016 - 5:18pm

In the article ‘Canada not ready for climate change’, the writer cautions readers on the effect extreme climate events, such as flooding and droughts, can have on infrastructure. He proceeds to say that this lack of preparedness could be detrimental if we don’t act immediately.  Also, the investment required for building resilience is less compared to the repairs needed if damage took place so there is little excuse for not adapting. However, there needs to be a larger commitment on behalf of the state, which often gets overlooked in favour of commercial buildings and business. This issue mainly involves the state as a primary actor for investment and building resilience.

The article brings up many concerns regarding the lack of preparation Canada faces when dealing with the threats that climate change poses. A moderate amount of commitment and investment is required to address these threats, however if leaders and ministers were genuinely committed the necessary changes would have been in place yesterday. My point is that government officials prioritize day-to-day operations that the country runs on over building climate resilience through infrastructure adaptation. This could be because we are dealing with highly complex and unpredictable systems, thus making it difficult for officials to act or enforce lasting change. More importantly, when climate scientists deal with uncertainty it’s often regarding the details that make up certain systems such as, it’s resilience, threshold and sensitivity. Hence, it’s not only whether climate change is an issue but also, they need to consider the different components that could affect these larger systems.

Furthermore, there may also be interest based, value based and behavioural conflict within these governmental and scientific communities. Interest based conflict refers to groups having different ideas about the project such as, who should bear the costs of these infrastructure changes and adaptations, whereas value based conflict suggests that, each group has different end goals about the extent of these changes or whether they’re really necessary. Finally, behavioural conflict arises when different personalities and circumstances between people clash, which may be a result of lack of trust between groups and individuals, their motives, their beliefs on climate change, and so on.

Another observation would be that neoliberalism makes it difficult for the state to fully invest in these infrastructure adaptations. Neoliberalism is defined as theories and practices that place importance on the market for social, economic and political life. This means that private businesses are receiving funding that could have otherwise been invested in infrastructure to build resilience. On top of that, this creates failures in a system that lacks regulatory assurance. Even if the company is environmentally friendly, third party certification and government oversight are not enough to address the scale of environmental threats that we face.